Where do you stand with Michael Vick pleading guilty to charges of interstate dog fighting? Without having done a formal survey, I think people fall along the lines of African Americans/football fans and animal lovers.
I empathize with both Vick and the dogs. Why? Consider the broader context: African American men have some of the highest rates of incarceration and the longest jail-times in the United States. You can now count Vick among those numbers, whether you consider him guilty or not guilty. In addition, dog fighting has long been part of male culture, including African American men, and was not condemned like the Vick case until the early twentieth century. Vick like other men was probably introduced to the fighting through family or by his peers. So there might have been a history there too At the same time, I am also horrified about animals abused around the world. This includes cock and dog fights. I love animals and don’t like to see them abused, caged, or encased in Plexiglas.
In The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, Jim Gorant recounts the events that led up to Vick’s charges and conviction, followed by rescuing the dogs and finding them homes. Gorant is clearly an animal lover, often telling the story through fictional vignettes based on what might have happened to the dogs:
“Sometimes men come and take a few of the dogs away. Sometimes those dogs come back tired and panting from running and running. Sometimes the dogs come back scarred and limping. Sometimes they come back looking the same, but acting completely different. Sometimes they don’t come back at all, as if they’ve simply disappeared.”
Many people found homes for the dogs to my relief; I love animals. People rehabilitated the dogs, many of them pit bulls, new kinder owners. Some even live with children. Redemption!
Vick has experienced some redemption too as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
So where do you stand?